The Swansea City defender captained Wales for the first time last weekend almost completing a meteoric rise after being released as a 16 year old by West Brom.
He was resuced bu Hednesford and has barely looked back in the nine years since that happened – now a regular for Wales as well as sitting proudly as part of a Swans side sitting 4th in the Championship.
“We still follow Ashley’s career” said McMahon – speaking to News of the World – “We know what’s going on with him because his Dad Errol is involved with our youth team.
“Everybody at the club is so proud of Ashley. We’ve had a few players who have gone onto bigger things. Brian Horton started here and more recently we’ve had Sean O’Connor who went to Dundee United and is now at Queen of the South. We also produced Marc Richards who left us for Blackpool and is now at Port Vale.
“But Ashley is the best of the lot. We still can’t believe one of our ex-players has captained his country. My son Michael was with Ashley at West Brom and they still keep in touch. Ashley has told him he will pop up to Hednesford soon to say hello. He will get a fantastic reception when he comes back.
“We’ve asled him for one of his Welsh shirts so we can frame it and hang it in reception. It will take pride of place at Keys Park. It has to be the focal point because we’re hardly a breeding ground for international captains!
“We pick up a lot of youngsters who have been rejected by clubs near us like Birmingham, West Brom and Walsall. We give them a second chance and that was the case with Ashley. West Brom had let him go but I never ever saw him depressed. He’s such a positive person which is probably why he’s got to where he is now.
“I had a feeling he was going to be a good player for us. Even when he was 16 he had good physique and pace.
“He came into his own at Stockport when Jim Gannon was manager. A lot of what Ashley has achieved is down to that man. We let him go on a free transfer and looking back that was a missed opportunity for us. Stockport did come to Keys Park sfor a pre season friendly as part of the deal but perhaps we should have got a fee for him.”
McMahon’s words were echoed by former Hednesford boss John Baldwin who said “Ashley is an example to any youngster who is released by their club.
“He’s proved you can get over being rejected if you work hard and put the effort in. We soon realised Ashley was one of the better youngsters we’d taken on. He was a big lad for his age he had pace and was already a tough cookie.
“I was certain he would break into the Hednesford team and become an excellent defender at Conference level. That’s why I gave him a contract. But I didn’t think he’d go on to become Wales captain and be linked with Premier League clubs.
“Ashley deserved the success he’s getting because he was a joy to deal with on and off the pitch.”